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A Few Notes from John Murphy - Seaman

    I enlisted in the Navy in the spring of 1943. I was sent to Bainbridge, MD, to spend weeks of arduous training in boot camp. After that I was transferred to Norfolk Naval Base to join the advance crew of a new DE, the USS Rich, DE695. At that time no one knew anything about DE's. We were given all kinds of instructions, gunnery practice and basic information on what to expect when we would go aboard.

    In the middle of September, 1943, we were almost through with our training. Most of the crew were in the barracks when a terrible explosion occurred. The CPO in charge of our group ordered everyone to stay in the barracks. A buddy (can't remember his name) and I went out the back door and crawled over the fence to see if we could help in any way. Wounded and dead personnel were being carried to a barracks near the scene of the explosion. We met a nurse who gave us a handful of morphine shots which we administered to the wounded if their dog tags said OK. One of the wounded told us that a plane had crashed into a hanger where depth charges were being stored. A great number of them exploded causing tremendous damage, deaths and injuries. It was an experience I will never forget!

    A few days later we embarked by train to New Orleans to commission the Rich on October 1, 1943. Although the Rich was a new ship preparing and cleaning it for sea duty was quite a job. Chief Boatswainmate Berry and I and three other sailors had quite a time loading the torpedos. We thought we were going to blow up the ship and nearly drowned in the process.

    I guess I was lucky as I was not aboard when it was sunk but I still remember my shipmates who were killed or wounded on that fateful day. God bless them all!

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